How Can Proper Signage Make or Break a Brick-and-Mortar Business?

Posted on June 21, 2018 | Updated on November 14, 2022

Today, a brick-and-mortar business must be more competitive than ever before. Not only do smaller stores have to compete with retail giants such as Walmart, but people have the option to shop online for almost anything you can imagine. You’re competing with more than just other local businesses, so it’s important to stand out in any way you can. Although many people still prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, those numbers are changing — 67 percent of millennials prefer online shopping to offline shopping. Online shopping is convenient, so if you want to draw customers into your brick-and-mortar store, you have to think outside the box. Signs are just one way to accomplish this. Signage is an effective way to draw customers into your store, provided you use it correctly. Poor signage serves as a turnoff and makes you look unprofessional. If the information is not correct or is outdated, customers may grow frustrated and never return. Here are seven ways you can use proper signage to draw people into your brick-and-mortar business.

1. Narrowcast Your Message

It’s important to choose a message that is very specific to your store, or even specific to a single location if you have more than one store. Narrowcasting puts a clear focus on the message you want to share with the consumer. Consider past buying patterns of your customers. Do they trend toward dresses in the early summer? If so, you might create a sign that says, “Looking for a new summer dress? Check out our sundress sale.”

The more specific your message, the less likely you’ll be able to re-use the sign again in the future, so balance the need for a narrow, specific message with the need to reuse the sign for additional promotions.

2. Add Outdoor Signage

Outdoor signage is one of the most important elements in attracting foot traffic. Consider the sign from different distances and angles. Is it visible from a few stores down? If you’re located in a strip mall, is the sign visible from the nearest road? Letters need to be large enough to read from a distance, but not so large that they are unreadable up close. There is a true art to creating outdoor signage that draws customers from the moment they see the sign until they make it through the door of your store.

3. Contrast Background and Text

While signage isn’t overly expensive, you do want it to be clear enough for people to read. While it’s tempting to use bright colors like yellow, text in that shade will be difficult for consumers to read. Consider the amount of contrast between your background and your text. Think about black letters on a white background for the highest level of contrast. From there, you can certainly choose other shades, but you should always consider the level of contrast and how visible it makes your sign.

4. Include a Call to Action (CTA)

If you want consumers to take action, such as browsing your new selection of widgets, invite them to do so. Many of the rules for CTAs that apply to online sales also apply to storefronts. By using first-person phrasing, one site saw a 90 percent increase in click-through rates. When creating signage to entice foot traffic into your store, give them a strong CTA and use first-person phrasing, such as “I want to save $10.” Make the CTA personal and specific.

5. Integrate With E-Commerce

Since e-commerce shopping is on the rise and so many millennials prefer shopping online, look for ways to integrate your brick-and-mortar store with online sales. For example, allow customers to order from your website, but allow in-store returns or exchanges.

Or, if people want to order online and pick their items up in person, that is a viable option as well. Use signage to advertise you’ve added this ability. Add an app so store visitors can scan an item and order it immediately in a different size or color if it is currently out of stock. All these tactics will increase your potential customer base.

6. Inform With Signage

One way you can truly engage customers and make them feel comfortable in your store is by installing informational signage. If you have a public bathroom, it should be easy to locate through signage with arrows pointing to different areas. You can also use signs to lead customers to specific departments and let them know which products are on which aisles in the store.

Informational signage shows customers your store is well-organized and professional and makes locating what they need easier for them and for you, as you can direct them to the appropriate sign to find what they need. Adding informational signage also saves you time and effort, as customers find what they need on their own rather than taking up time employees could instead spend upselling or creating an incredible customer experience.

7. Go Digital

Don’t overlook the benefits of digital signage. Although you’ll pay more for your initial investment, you’ll also gain the ability to change features and information. Digital displays are eye-catching and still unique enough to attract attention. They show your brick-and-mortar business is keeping up with the latest technology, which is attractive to younger consumers.

Change signs quickly on the fly, or display rotating informational panels that allow you to educate your customers, as well as let them know what specials you’re running. Digital signage also saves time, as you can update prices or details at the touch of a button.

Proper Signage

There are many ways to use signs at your brick-and-mortar business. These seven ideas are a great place to start, but you’ll also want signs to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, to list safety protocols for workers and many other areas of your store. Start with the big signs that draw traffic and work your way down to smaller, informational signs for your customers and your employees.

Related Posts

About The Author

The Designerly staff is committed to providing well-researched and ongoing learning resources. We're dedicated to educating you on key design concepts and showcasing strategic marketing plans to help grow your business.

Leave a Comment